#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Social entrepreneurship as a special form of business was officially approved only in 2019. According to the law, these are activities “aimed at achieving socially important goals and contributing to the solution of social problems”. However, for the Norilsk resident Evgeniya Garnaga and her husband Konstantin, this story began much earlier. They became first students of the social entrepreneurship course, which since 2014 has been a component of Nornickel’s charitable program World of New Opportunities.
Evgeniya got to the training organized in the city by the company by accident: a friend recommended the course. By that time, the Norilsk woman already had experience of entrepreneurial activity – for 15 years she and her husband Konstantin were engaged in network marketing.
“When I entered the social entrepreneurship course, everything led towards the closure of my store. It was hard for me to imagine that my entrepreneurial activity would turn in a completely different direction”, recalls the Norilsk woman. “In 2014, I knew nothing about social entrepreneurship. In addition, it is still difficult for me to understand: when is the word ‘social’ applicable to private business? If we proceed from the fact that a social entrepreneur satisfies the urgent needs of society, in our country almost all business can be attributed to this category”.
During one of the sessions, Evgeniya came up with the idea of creating a children’s educational center in the city. Konstantin joined her in this project. The couple began to develop the business plan together.
The company supported their idea allocating an interest-free loan for 4 million 200 thousand rubles. The money was spent on renovating the premises and purchasing equipment. The social entrepreneurs were provided with comfortable conditions: they had to pay off the loan in four years.
“We do not know what professions will be in demand in the society in 10–20 years. However, we can interest children today, develop their natural curiosity, creative thinking and much more”, explains the social entrepreneur.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) technologies help the Miracle Children center stay in trend. The old school curriculum, based on the study of individual subjects, no longer covers the needs of the modern students. That is why the Garnagas are introducing the innovative system when, in robotics classes, for example, a child, without delving into the subject, can simultaneously study physics, geometry and check facts on his own experience.
Today, their Miracle Children center has several main areas: robotics, drawing for children and adults, intuitive painting, right-brain drawing and neurographics.
When Nornickel announced the acceptance of applications for participation in the Social Business Projects Accelerator, Evgeniya and Konstantin became its participants – they had new ideas for business development.
Despite the difficult situation due to the coronavirus, the couple are confident that they will be able to overcome difficulties and to pay the company’s loan. What does it take to be successful in entrepreneurial activity? The spouses have a simple answer: persistence in achieving the goal and self-belief.
Text: Elena Popova, Photo: personal archive of Evgeniya and Konstantin Garnaga